Saturday, August 17, 2013

Blackstone and the Endgame

My first Inspector Sam Blackstone mystery and surely there will be more. It was certainly fast paced and ended in a very satisfying fashion. Sam has family now and what directions will that take him in?

I was not sure about all the ins and outs of the Russian scenes, although Rasputin and the Tsar and Tsarina were not new to me. The "Great War" surely shaped the 20th century in many ways 1916 was pivotal for Europe. The Bolshevik Revolution was close at hand and the author knew his history well. I needed to look a few things up to follow along,no fault to Spencer, just not my genre.

Archie Patterson and Sam Blackstone apparently make a tremendous duo together, with the addition of Ellie they had a trio. I will surely check that out in another book in the series. Vladimar apparently had made an appearance in the past.

I appreciated the opportunity to review this book and recommend it to all mystery, WWI and Russian spy aficionados. Something exciting will be happening in Sam's life next time out. Check it out! 


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mary Darby Robinson~ Lady of Passion

"So you were once the beautiful Mrs. Robinson?" begins the prologue of the book in December 1800. Mary Darby Robinson, writing her autobiography at that time, passed away Dec. 26 with that work unfinished. She died in poverty although her fortunes rose and fell during her life.

Was she a victim of circumstances or did she make poor choices? The author does not actually say, but rather presents the facts of her life to the reader. In Freda Lightfoot's words " entirely based on facts, backed up by the less emotional biographies...when in doubt I went to the primary source".

My thought is that she was a victim both of men who pursued her and her own choices. The husband who was thrust upon her at fifteen was not a choice she made, however, but one that was thrust upon her. Her enabling of Thomas Robinson, a weak but pleasant spendthrift and gambler set a pattern for her life.

We can only look to her father who, when Mary was seven left his wife and five children to pursue a life in Labrador with a mistress .The fact that her father remained in control of the family, while not supporting them, cast a very large and dark shadow over her life.

I appreciated the opportunity to review this book which was well researched and comprehensive. Mary was a wistful character, lived a sad life and Lightfoot documented that life well, although I am not sure the title best describes her or her life. My first read by this author but for sure not my last.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Alice Perrers was The King's Concubine

Anne O'Brien's books just keep getting better in my estimation. The title character of Alice was impeccably developed and I like to think accurately illustrated her life and the times she lived in. Perhaps her marriage was less idyllic than described, and possibly Queen Philippa did not choose her to entice Edward, but all things looked at together do seem to represent historical events.

As a critic, I would say that as the protagonist Alice shone, and Edward had much less depth. The rest of the characters were sort of typecast as minor villains as their roles as family members of the King dictated. It was a tumultuous time and Alice rose to her self imposed task on more than one occasion, quite possibly because she necessarily had to try to have a safety net for herself and her children.

Alice was a solitary figure her entire life, I would like to hope that the last 20 some years were good ones for her, living in comfort with her children and her husband. We do not know a lot about her early life but it could have happened just this way.